A CRITICAL ASSESSMENT OF J.S MBITI’S AFRICANS’ CONCEPTION OF TIME
J.S Mbiti contended that Africans perceive time composition of events which must be lived through. He contended further, that one can from such ontology, arrive at the understanding of African philosophical concepts.
This essay attempted a critical examination of Mbiti's view on Africans' conception of time, and to show that Mbiti's Africans' conception of time, is not key to the understanding of African philosophical concepts.
The method employed was an in depth analysis of concept of time in African cultures and philosophical argumentation.Mbiti'sAfrican Religions and Philosophy, Masolo'sAfrican Philosophy in Search for Identity, Ayoade'sTime in Yoruba thought, Oke'sFrom an Ontology to an Epistemology, and Gyekye'sAn Essay on African Philosophical Thought: The Akan Conception Scheme, were studied and analyzed.
The results of this essay included the following: first, that Mbiti's claim that Africans lack the idea of an extended future is false, that there various time conception on the continent of Africa, and that the understanding of Mbiti's African conception of time did not necessarily mean an understanding of African philosophical concepts.
This essay concluded that there is the concept of an extended future in Africa and Mbiti should not have based his conclusion from his understanding of the Kikamba culture only, which erroneously led him to the fallacy of hasty generalization with regard to the conceptions of time in Africa.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
Unfortunately, space considerations do not allow a full consideration of all of the relevant concerns of contextualizing biblical truth in light of the African concept of time. This study is intended only as a basic foundation to the major issues on the African conception of time. The traditional African concept of time will possibly have effects on how we concept time in our day to day activities in Africa. It should be obvious that the task is incredibly complex, and remind us ever anew of the need for the management of our time in directing our steps. Perhaps the danger of doing nothing for fear of making a mistake is the greatest of all dangers, and we must avoid the 'paralysis of analysis' inherent in over-examination of issues. While we do desire to be as usable as possible in our initial contact, we must remember that doing something and learning from the inevitable mistakes made is far better that trying to analyze too much and doing nothing as ·a result. It is hoped that this study will provide a foundation upon which to act and more quickly learn how to properly evaluate the African concept of time and its implications for contextualization of the time in the African context. 5.2 Conclusion
Mbiti’s concept of time no doubt has lots of estimable degrees. Mbiti masterly researched into the concept of time using two languages of Kenya. It follows from the above that to a reasonable sense one can say that the traditional Africans have their own peculiar understanding of the concept of time that differs from that of the West. One can say the Africans value time very much. This is made true from the statement ‘time na money’ (ogebu ego).
Consequently, Mbiti has been criticized on the bases of African time being backward. This is because for the African time to be backward it implies retrogressions in progress and lack of progress in the Africans mindset. Equally for the Africans not to have the conception of future also sounds chords of African’s not bordered about what the future has in stock. But this is not so in existential parlance of Africans for in Africa we see the African man making plans for the far future. This informs why an African man will work hard to earn a living in view of his getting married and having children. All these point to the fact the Africans have the idea of future time and they hold it so dear.
Based on this assessment of Mbiti’s concept of time, I was able tofind out that the Africans have not just in the present times mixed up their indigenous concept of time with the linear western concept of time, but they seem to approximate fully to the western’s conception of time. The Africans to a reasonable extent now label derogatorily the African time as meaning laziness, lateness, sluggishness, etc. and as such Africans are branded as not having the sense of time and not keeping to time. These are influences of the western linear notion of time..